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Preview: Africa Unchained

Emergent Africa

Inspired by George Ayittey's book 'Africa Unchained'.

Updated: 2017-11-17T13:40:03.840-05:00


Why do I make art? To build time capsules for my heritage - Kayla Briët


Kayla Briët at TED:
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When it comes to trade, Africa really should be a country


Calestous Juma & Francis Mangeni in Quartz:
African countries are forging ahead to complete negotiations for a continental free trade area between 55 countries by early next year. The idea, adopted by the African Union in 2012, is to create a single market which includes the free movement of goods, services and people. The integrated African market covers 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of over USD$3.5 trillion...[more]

Atheist Stanford Biologist Robert Sapolsky Explains How Religious Beliefs Reduce Stress


In Open Culture:
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Mugabe's downfall...A blow against personal rule in #Africa?


Africa Confidential reports:
The end of President Robert Mugabe's reign in Zimbabwe – whatever else it presages – sends a clear message to other power families in the region. As Southern Africans were musing over the fin de règne in Zimbabwe, the new President in Angola, João Lourenço sacked Isabel dos Santos from her position as head of the state oil company, Sonangol...[more]

African Philanthropy


In the FT:
The rise of Africa’s wealthy class, and the greater capacity of some governments to drive growth and development independently, is giving Africans more say over the type of programmes they want funded
More here

Click-Bait Journalism in #Ghana and the problem of Cultural Erasure


Efo Sela Kojo Adjei writing in Accra dot Alt:
Young performance artists at Mama Vena Shrine. Kli-Adzima festival (Klikor, 2016) Photo Credit: Sela Kodjo Adjei.
This article is a response to the abysmal manner in which the burial ceremony of the late Nana AFIA KOBI SERWAA AMPEM II ASANTEHEMAA (Asante Queen mother) was reported by the Ghanaian media. News channels in Ghana are making more money running commercials than producing news. Influential news outlets like CITI FM, JOY FM and PEACE FM, among others, are particularly guilty of manufacturing consent through massive misinformation packaged as news. These are the same agencies with wide listenership within Accra and syndicated shows across the country. So when their reporters put out biased and inaccurate information, it’s an even bigger deal in this case as it’s about the cultural representation of a very large group of people. The Queen mother’s funeral was quite a spectacle and for a lot of people it was the first time seeing Asante funeral rituals and ceremony for high ranking royals like their queen. Two Ghanaian photographers’ gave the world a front row seat to Ghana’s biggest social event for 2017 through social media. Emmanuel Bobbie and Yaw Pare’s photos captured riveting images of the burial ceremony and generated a lot of fashion commentary from social media users as well as prejudiced debate on “Ghanaianess” and ethnic profiling...[more]

Why #Somaliland is east Africa’s strongest democracy


Over at the Economist:
Though unrecognised by the international community, the country benefits from a strong social contract between government and citizens...[more]

Unfinished development projects in #Ghana: Mechanising collective choice


Martin J Williams writes:
Project non-completion, commonly attributed to corruption or clientelism, is in fact often caused by an inability to prioritise public expenditure

Unfinished infrastructure projects are a common sight in many developing countries. Infrastructure is a high priority for governments, citizens, and donors alike, on account of its crucial role in achieving social and economic development. It is therefore frustrating and puzzling to see much needed infrastructure development projects abandoned mid-construction...[more]

Africa has been failed by westernisation. It must cast off its subservience - Chigozie Obioma


Chigozie Obioma writing in the Guardian:
The continent’s elites have to reject the notion that being ‘modern’ and ‘civilised’ means aping the west
One of the greatest ironies in the history of the collapse of any civilisation must be the initial interaction between Africans and Europeans. The Igbos in the east of Nigeria, for instance, initially saw the Europeans as madmen of strange appearance and ill-formed ideologies. On banking, the Igbos wondered how an adult in his right mind could hand over his possessions for others to keep for him. By the end of the 19th century, the “madman” had overturned their civilisation, and they had adopted his...[more]

Somaliland's voting technology shows how Africa can lead the world #Somaliland


Calestous Juma writes: a remarkable extension of technological leapfrogging, Somaliland has become the first country in the world to use iris recognition in a presidential election. This means that a breakaway republic seeking international recognition will have the world’s most sophisticated voting register.
More here

Fixing Nigerian Electricity Sector through Decentralization


Tekedia reports:
A professor from Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) gave a speech in Owerri last week. In that talk, he broke down all the problems with the Nigerian electricity sector. He explained the near-impossible seamless interface between the distribution companies (Discos) and the generating companies (Gencos) despite the presence of the NBET (Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)...[more]

Alexis Okeowo: Everyday Africans Fighting Extremism


Meara Sharma writing in Guernica:
The journalist on establishing emotional connection in interviews, and getting on with the business of living after trauma.
Aisha wears track pants under her long skirt and hijab. She plays basketball every day, despite menacing phone calls from strangers who say Islam prohibits women from doing so. She and her teammates know where to walk in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, to avoid Al-Shabaab militants. Death threats, kidnappings, men who stalk the court, follow her to practice—Aisha deals with it all, because she loves the sport, and because she wants to live her life.

In her new book, A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa, New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo tells Aisha’s story, along with the tales of several other men and women in Nigeria, Uganda, and Mauritania whose lives have collided with conflict, violence, and fundamentalist ideology...[more]

An Option for Africa? Startup Blue Frontiers is building Seastead in French Polynesia


Over at Nextbigfuture:
Blue Frontiers is the first seasteading company. Floating Islands can mitigate sea level rise. Rising seas are hurting island and coastal nations. Environmentally conscious technologies will create opportunities.

French Polynesia is ready to innovate and become resilient to the threat...[more]

Lingering cultural colonialism


From the BBC:
In our series of letters from African journalists, Elizabeth Ohene argues that African identities remain in thrall to the continent's colonial past.

English-speaking Cameroon has been on my mind. Agitation for its secession has led me into paths I rarely stray into.

I am a great believer in African countries needing to get on with it and not blaming things on colonialism.

But I am now beginning to think that the way the countries of Africa came into being matters very much in how they cope in later life.
More here

via Africa is a Country

On #Nigeria Tyrants - Why We Love Them


Derin Adebayo writes:
Out of a population of about 180 million, Nigeria has 360 members of the House of Representatives, 109 senators, 36 governors and one president. How is it possible that this group of around less than a thousand people manage to rule over and extract the vast majority of resources available in the country?
More here

The Rules for Rulers


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God is an Imaginary Being – Atheist Society of #Nigeria


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The first convention of the Atheist Society of Nigeria has taken place in Lagos. The theme was, ‘the road to reason; challenges of atheism in Nigeria. They gave reasons why they say there is no God.

The Lawyers’ Role in Perpetuating Corruption in #Nigeria


A GAB post from 2016:
Nuhu Ribadu, the former head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, spoke to lawyers in Abuja on December 1 on his experience fighting corruption in Nigeria and the role the bar played...[more]

How Software is Eating the World and Reprogramming Democracy


Over at Open Mind:
Democracy, the government of the majority typically through elected representatives, is undergoing a major crisis. Human societies have experimented with democracy since at least the fifth century BC in the polis of Athens. Whether democracy is scalable is an open question that could help understand the current mistrust in democratic institutions and the rise of populism. The majority rule is a powerful narrative that is fed every few years with elections. In Against elections, the cultural historian Van Reybrouck claims that elections were never meant to make democracy possible, rather the opposite, it was a tool designed for those in power to prevent “the rule of the mob”. Elections created a new elite and power remained in the hands of a minority, but this time endowed with democratic legitimacy...[more]

How Universities Foster Economic Growth—and Democracy


In CityLab:
Universities don’t just produce human capital and innovation. They also promote democratic values in their communities, according to a new study...[more]

Compensating Victims of #Corruption


From GAB-The Global Anticorruption Blog:
That corruption is not a victimless crime is no longer in doubt. The once fashionable argument that corruption advances human welfare by “greasing the wheels” of clunky bureaucracies has been entombed thanks to a plethora of academic studies, media reports, and first-person accounts showing the undeniable, often enormous, harm corruption wreaks on individuals and society as a whole. As UN Secretary General António Guterres told this week’s seventh meeting of the parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption, that harm ranges from denying citizens access to such basic rights as “health services, schools and economic opportunities” to undermining the very foundation of the state through enabling “a small elite in positions of power to prosper” thus destroying citizens’ “faith in good governance.”
More here

Biafra’s Crisis of Faith -The Spiritual Legacies of the Biafran War


Samuel F. Childs. Daly writing in The Republic:
The flood of writing attending the fiftieth anniversary of the Nigerian Civil War has found a place for Biafra in many histories, ranging from the birth of political humanitarianism to the articulation of Nigerian masculinity. One topic that is conspicuously absent from studies of the War is its connection to religion. There is good reason for this: religion explains less about the Nigerian Civil War and its aftermath than it might seem looking back from the present...[more]

Jobs and robots: bracing for technological disruptions to come - Calestous Juma


Calestous Juma writes:
Rapid advances in artificial intelligence and the rapid adoption of robots across diverse industries are stalking the fear of jobless growth. Responses to these developments have focused on what to do to ensure that robots don’t steal jobs...[more]

Kleptocracy Tour: #Nigeria edition


In the FT:
Global hunt for Nigeria’s ‘missing billions’ turns to London...[more]